For many, this is the most wonderful time of the year. But when it comes to the workplace, the holidays can be tricky—and risky—for employers. Here are four tips to keep the season merry and bright for you and your workers.

Be Fair with Bonuses

If you’ve awarded bonuses in the past, chances are that employees expect you’ll do so again. When that’s not the case, be sure to let employees know well ahead of time and offer something else to show your appreciation like an extra day off. If you plan to issue holiday bonuses, understand that they can be a great motivation tool—if done right—so think carefully about how to structure them. Some options are to issue a flat dollar amount to all employees, an amount based on an individual’s salary, or a goal- or performance-based bonus instead.

Whatever direction you choose, make the bonuses equitable among peer groups and recognize all employees in some way so no one feels overlooked. For more tips on awarding bonuses, watch our video.

Reduce Party Liability

While some companies have eliminated office holiday parties altogether to eliminate risk, others are keeping the tradition alive. If you’re scheduling an event this year, minimize the chance of negative consequences by serving plenty of food and limiting alcohol by using drink tickets, setting a drink maximum or only serving wine and beer. That way, you’ll reduce the likelihood of drunk driving, falls or injuries to others. And to keep discrimination claims at bay, make sure your employee handbook is updated with the appropriate anti-sexual harassment policies so attendees understand exactly what behavior’s acceptable—and what’s not.

Know the Price Tag of Gifts

Many employers give employees year-end presents and/or arrange gift exchanges among employees. But not everyone necessarily wants to get in on the action. Why? The IRS considers any amount transferred from an employer to an employee part of the individual’s gross income. Fortunately, de minimis fringe benefits like gifts that are small in value are excluded. However, cash gifts aren’t and must be treated as taxable income. Another thing to consider with gifts is to keep them secular and gender-neutral. Lastly, if you organize a swap, be sure to make it voluntary by asking employees to opt-in (rather than out), set dollar limits, and make sure the exchange is appropriate for the workplace.

Staff Smartly

Understandably, you’ll get multiple requests for time off around the holidays. While it’s important to consider employees’ desire to prepare, travel or simply spend time with family and friends, you’ll need to balance their interests with those of the business. There are several ways to approach staffing this time of year, including setting a first-come, first-served policy to encourage early requests so you can plan ahead, having part-time staffers pitch in if you need extra help, offering a pay differential or time off at a later date, and allowing employees to work from home. Just remember to communicate your policies and apply them consistently.

For more information on these issues or other HR questions you may have this time of year, contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 888-865-4470.

HR Outsourcing for Every Budget

This past month, Complete Payroll Solutions was thrilled to welcome five new team members:

Renée Bucklin, Senior HR Business Partner: Renée has joined the company’s Warwick office to assist clients with human resource issues and employee handbooks. Most recently, she owned her own human resource consultancy and held several in-house positions with small businesses in Rhode Island. Previously, she served as a human resource generalist for hospitality, healthcare and manufacturing organizations in Northern Virginia, suburban Boston and Western Massachusetts. Renée received her Master’s in Administration from George Washington University, her Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island and a Regents Diploma from Glens Falls (NY) High School.

Kathy Peterson, Client Relations Specialist: Kathy works out of our Chatham, MA, office. In this role, Kathy processes payroll and assist clients with any payroll-related issues. Previously, she managed the payroll department of an accounting firm. Kathy attended Cape Cod Community College, where she received certificates in computerized accounting and office administration.

Lindsay Suprenant, Client Relations Supervisor: Lindsay recently joined us working out of the Middletown, CT, office where she manages four payroll Customer Service Representatives. Lindsay began her career in the industry with Paychex and most recently worked at PrimePay, where she held a variety of positions in client services and operations.

Kerry Blanchard, Employee Benefits Account Manager: Working at the company’s Springfield, MA, office, Kerry focuses primarily on retirement plan administration. She began her career in the retirement services industry at Fidelity Investments, where she worked for six years both in operations and in the non-discrimination testing services group. She also worked for The Phoenix Companies and The Feingold Companies, focusing on retirement plan administration and compliance testing. Kerry has an MBA in Finance from Clark University.

Ashley Fredricks, Office Administrator/Receptionist: Ashley has joined us in the company’s Chatham, MA, location. In addition to serving as office administrator, she also processes payrolls and assists clients with payroll-related issues. Ashley attended Cape Cod Community College, where she earned an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration. Next fall, she is planning to transfer to UMass Dartmouth and work towards earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting.

Are you interested in becoming part of the Complete Payroll Solutions team? Check out our current openings.

With federal, state and local taxes due at specific times and on particular forms, payroll can be tricky and error-prone, exposing companies to hefty liability. Here are the top payroll mistakes to be aware of – and avoid – so you can lower your risk, enhance compliance, and boost employee morale.

9 Payroll Mistakes to Avoid

Missing Deadlines: Taxes are due to the IRS by specific dates, typically on a quarterly, monthly or semi-weekly basis. And missing these deadlines could result in penalties ranging from two to 15 percent of the past due amount, plus interest.

Submitting the Wrong Tax: If you make errors in the amount of payroll tax submitted, you could be penalized by the IRS, especially if you’re a repeat offender. And fines can be up to 10 percent of total payroll.

Misclassifying Employees: It’s critical to properly determine a worker’s status – employee or independent contractor – since whether they’re subject to tax withholding depends on it. While you may have an opportunity to correct a misclassification, you’ll still be on the hook for some portion of retroactive payroll taxes. Click here for more guidance on classification.

Using Inaccurate Employee Information: The IRS requires correct employee data when payroll is processed so be sure you have the right information like name, date of birth and hourly rates when setting up a worker.

Processing Payroll Late: Missing a payroll deadline can have a serious impact on employee morale, and could prompt complaints that lead to an audit. And with missed payroll, you likely won’t pass one, resulting in fees and penalties.

Paying Incorrect Amounts: It’s not uncommon for employees to be paid the wrong amounts. That’s why it’s important to confirm the withholding and payment information is entered correctly in the system.

Not Making Timely 401(k) Contributions: If you offer an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, be sure to make timely contributions. If not defined in your plan documents, deposits generally must be made as soon as possible after withholding the money from an employee’s wages – at the latest, the 15th business day of the month after the contributions are withheld. Otherwise, you’ll risk penalties under IRS and Department of Labor rules.

Failing to Keep Proper Payroll Records: State and federal regulations require employers to maintain certain payroll records, such as documentation about minimum wage and overtime, so be sure to pay attention to record keeping requirements. For tips on proper record keeping, download our FAQ.

Not Handling Garnishments and Child Support Correctly: When debts need to be collected from an employee’s salary, you’ll need to make sure you’re withholding correctly for child support, tax levies or other garnishments and submitting payments per the remittance instructions.

For further assistance with optimizing your payroll processes to avoid costly errors, contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 866-658-8800.

Simplify Your Payroll Process

At some point, almost everyone’s worked for a boss they didn’t like. But worse is a manager or supervisor that actually ruins the workplace for employees, significantly impacting motivation in the process. Here are ten common characteristics of a terrible boss.

10 Traits of a Bad Boss

1. Controlling: Horrible bosses often delegate without explanation, then constantly review work by micromanaging.

2. Indecisive: A typical trait of a horrible manager is indecisiveness. But when bosses drag their feet out of fear of making the wrong decision, they waste both time and their employees’ efforts.

3. Resistant to Change: Technology, people, processes, the market and various other business factors continually evolve. A bad boss fails to embrace change, which can negatively affect the efficiency and quality of everybody’s daily work.

4. Plays Favorites: Consciously or not, a bad manager often treats workers differently. If employees feel they’re overlooked for certain perks or promotions because of favoritism, morale is sure to take a hit.

5. Mean: An angry boss is a terrible boss. Whether a manager or supervisor yells, bullies or belittles employees, the behavior’s simply wrong.

6. Blameless: Everyone makes mistakes. But the bad leader won’t admit to them, placing the fault with others instead. Employees who feel they’re getting a bad rap for something they didn’t do will not only get frustrated, but their boss’ actions could impact their reputation as well.

7. Self-Righteous: A common characteristic of a bad boss is the inability to see that anyone else is right. This stubbornness can cause them to disregard other’s ideas and opinions, dampening the spirits of those voicing them.

8. Visionless: Many supervisors are so focused on the day-to-day that they don’t set goals for the future of their department. But most employees are eager to know where things are going and want a plan to reach the destination.

9. Egotistical: The bad boss is often extremely self-centered. But by making everything about them rather than their employees, the bravado will put off workers.

10. Unavailable: Absent bosses can be terrible bosses because they’re not accessible when employees need them to make a decision, in times of crisis, or simply when a delicate situation arises.

In today’s job market, retention is critical. To help your organization understand how to improve the work environment, download our tip sheet on how to be a better boss. For more guidance, contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 866.658.8800.

20 Questions to Ask During an Interview

Federal laws and regulations require a number of benefit notices and filings of employers. Generally speaking, the documents fall into several major categories.

Types of Benefit Notices and Filings

  • Summary Plan Descriptions, Summary of Material Modifications and Plan Documents: These documents provide participants and beneficiaries information about their plan and any changes to it.
  • ACA Notices: Group health plans under the ACA must provide a number of informational notices to participants, beneficiaries and other individuals eligible for benefits under the plan.
  • COBRA Notices: For certain sized employers, notices of the temporary extension of health coverage when group coverage ends is required.
  • HIPAA Portability and Nondiscrimination Notices: These notices specify the rights of participants and beneficiaries related to preexisting conditions, discrimination based on health status and special enrollment opportunities.
  • Special Health Care Notices: Employers who offer certain types of coverage and those in certain states who provide premium assistance through Medicaid or CHIP have additional notice requirements.
  • Benefit Claims Notices: Written explanations are due to claimants when a health plan denies payment for a treatment or service.
  • HIPAA Privacy and Security-Related Notices: Covered entities must provide notices to individuals that explain their rights with respect to their health information.
  • Medicare Part D Creditable Coverage Notices: For those whose policies include prescription drug coverage, Medicare-eligible policyholders must be notified about whether their coverage is creditable coverage.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Notices: Eligible employees of covered employers must receive specific notices explaining their FMLA rights.

The Cost of Noncompliance

As the amount of information required of employers escalates, so too does the cost of noncompliance, with penalties continuing to increase. For example, fines for failing to supply a Summary of Benefits and Coverage rose to $1,128 per failure in 2018.

And while many companies believe that the requirements only apply to those with 50 or more employees, that’s not the case. Even small businesses must keep up with reporting. In fact, organizations with just one to 19 employees must provide over 20 benefit notices and filings ever year. And keeping track of what’s required, when, can be difficult.

To help ease the burden on your HR department, we’ve compiled a list of the mandatory documents by company size. Keep in mind, however, that your state’s laws may impact these obligations. Click here to access the chart.

Required Benefits Notices Chart

It’s hurricane season. And if your business operates in an area that could be impacted, it’s critical that you have an action plan in place in case of closures. Here are 10 things to address so you’ll remain in compliance with employment laws – and keep your employees in the know.

How to Prepare Your Business for a Hurricane

1. Assess Your Liability: When making a decision to close in the event of a hurricane, remember to consider the risks you face if you decide to stay open and an employee gets injured on the job.

2. Establish a Team: Pull together leaders, managers and other personnel and assign necessary tasks that need to be handled during a weather closure.

3. Develop a Policy, and Share It: Be sure your employee handbook contains your inclement weather protocols so that workers understand what situations may prompt a closure, the way they’ll be contacted, compensation impacts, and so on.

4. Communicate Closures: In addition to having a plan for letting employees know about closures, you’ll need to inform customers, clients and vendors if your operations are impacted and how they can get updates of your status.

5. Consider Compensation Impacts: If you close for all or part of a day, nonexempt employees must only be paid for the hours worked, while exempt employees must be paid for the entire work week if they worked any part of it. Make sure you spell out these details in your handbook to eliminate confusion.

Download the Hurricane Preparedness Map

6. Address PTO: For both exempt and nonexempt employees, employers can require employees to use vacation time or PTO so consider your options and set a policy.

7. Determine How to Handle Remote Workers: If nonexempt workers can do work from home, be sure you establish record-keeping procedures for tracking their hours.

8. Understand FMLA: If workers suffer an injury or illness as a result of a hurricane, you may need to grant leave under the FMLA for qualifying employees.

9. Maintain a Safe Workplace: Hurricanes can cause power outages, flooding and other hazardous conditions in the workplace so be sure you adequately protect employees against dangers.

10. Offer Support: Depending on the severity of the hurricane, your employees may suffer damage to their homes or other property or even the loss of a loved one. During times of crisis, it’s important to offer support such as an employee assistance program.

Since hurricanes can create big HR challenges, find out if you’re at risk so you can prepare. Download our map.

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Last month, the IRS announced detailed guidance on the new business tax credit for 2018 and 2019 for employers who provide paid family and medical leave to workers.

Employers who don’t yet offer leave may still be able to claim the credit, retroactive to the beginning of their tax year, if they set up a qualifying paid family leave program or make changes to their current program before December 31, 2018.

The credit, announced as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is equal to a percentage of wages paid to qualifying employees while they are on leave, which can be for any of the same purposes allowed under FMLA. To be eligible, employers must have a policy that:

  • Covers all qualifying employees
  • Provides at least two weeks of annual paid family and medical leave for each full-time qualifying employee and at least a proportionate amount for each part-time qualifying worker.
  • Provides for payment of at least 50 percent of the qualifying employee’s wages while they’re on leave.
  • Includes language providing “non-interference” protections if the employer employs qualifying employees that aren’t covered by Title I of the FMLA.

The IRS’ guidance is in a question and answer format. For more about what this announcement means for your organization, contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 888-865-4470.

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The IRS recently released Forms 1094-C1095-C1094-B, and 1095-B for employers to use in early 2019 to report on the group health insurance coverage they offered during the 2018 calendar year. Instructions on how to complete the forms have also been released.

The forms, required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), are used by insurers, self-insuring employers, and other parties that provide minimum essential health coverage to report information on their coverage to the IRS and covered individuals. Large employers must also report information to the IRS and employees about compliance with the employer shared responsibility provisions and the healthcare coverage they’ve offered.

As a reminder, here are the deadlines:

  • Employers with 50 or more full-time employees (including full-time equivalent employees): These groups generally must furnish a Form 1095-C to all full-time employees by January 31, 2019, and file Form 1094-C and all Forms 1095-C with the IRS by February 28, 2019 (or March 31, 2019, if filing electronically).
  • Self-insured employers with fewer than 50 or more full-time employees (including full-time equivalent employees): Generally these employers must furnish a Form 1095-B to all responsible individuals by January 31, 2019, and file Form 1094-B and all Forms 1095-B with the IRS by February 28, 2019 (or March 31, 2019, if filing electronically).

For more information about ACA reporting, call Complete Payroll Solutions at 877.253.9020.

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After years of requiring employers to submit the EEO-1 report by September 30, last year, the filing deadline was changed to March 31, 2018, for the 2017 survey. And, according to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the deadline for the EEO-1 report will continue to be March 31 annually, meaning the 2018 filing will be due March 31, 2019.

What’s Required

The mandatory filing requires company employment data about race/ethnicity, gender and job category.  Employment data must be pulled from one “snapshot” pay period in October, November or December of the current survey year.

Who Must File?

The report must be filed by:

  • Companies with 100 or more employees
  • Those with fewer than 100 employees if they’re owned or corporately affiliated with another company and the total enterprise employs 100 or more employees
  • Federal contractors with 50 or more employees and a prime contract or first-tier subcontract amounting to $50,000 or more

Both full and part-time employees are included in the reporting.

First-Time EEO Filers

Most employers required to file an EEO-1 receive an annual notification letter and filing instructions. If your company must file for the first time, you need to register the company online at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeo1survey. After submitting the registration form, you’ll receive your company number and password.

For more information, read the EEO-1 FAQ here.

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New Offices in White Plains, NY and West Warwick, RI

We recently opened a new Complete Payroll Solutions office in White Plains, New York. The Westchester County office is staffed with a diverse team of sales and service professionals with extensive industry experience.

We are also proud to announce the opening of our West Warwick, RI office in The Gardens Office Park. This office will serve our growing list of clients in Rhode Island, including companies in the broadcast media, hospitality, and tourism industries.

Welcome to the CPS Team!

We’ve also added several new members to the CPS team:

Michele Fitzgibbons, Business Solutions Consultant: Michele joins Complete Payroll Solutions with 15 years of industry experience. Most recently, she worked at Paychex, where she earned the prestigious President’s Club recognition three years in a row for her sales success. In her new role, she is responsible for establishing client relationships, assisting businesses in understanding the best technology and support for their needs, and ensuring ongoing compliance with state and federal workplace laws and regulations. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University Connecticut and has completed additional coursework in Sales, Management and Payroll Administration. 

Julia Furtado-Lavoie, Regional Sales Manager: Julia joins Complete Payroll Solutions with 20 years of experience in the industry, most recently serving as a District Sales Manager and Circle of Excellence Sales Representative at Paychex, Inc. Previously, she was a Platinum Club sales performer at InterPay Payroll, Inc. She will be responsible for new client onboarding and transitioning existing clients to select payroll platforms for optimal HR integration depending on their needs. She also manages relationships with the organization’s key financial partners.

Chris Freitas, Regional Sales Manager: Chris will be responsible for leading a team of sales professionals with hands-on coaching and training so they can build meaningful client relationships and deliver the right solutions for each company’s specific needs. He will also work to develop new partners in the region. He joins Complete Payroll Solutions with 18 years of experience in the industry, most recently serving as a Senior Field Sales Manager at Paychex, Inc., where he previously held other sales positions in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Chris graduated with an MFA in Graphic Design from Plymouth State University and is currently working towards his Global MBA from Southern New Hampshire University.

Interested in joining our team? Check out our current openings.